Interviewing Witnesses in Your Personal Injury Case

If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, such as in an auto accident or due to a faulty product, animal attack, or malpractice, you have the right to expect compensation for your suffering and losses. In Florida, we follow the “pure comparative negligence” system, which means that in a lawsuit, fault is distributed between parties. As a personal injury attorney, it is my responsibility to present a preponderance of evidence demonstrating the fault of the other party in order to win for my client the highest possible monetary compensation for injury and loss. One of the strongest pieces of evidence is often testimony from witnesses. 

Eyewitnesses and lay witnesses

Eyewitnesses are among the most powerful pieces of evidence in your case. The classic eyewitness is someone who was present at the time of the accident – car accident, slip and fall, injury on public or private property, product malfunction, dog attack, etc. Other witnesses include those who came along shortly thereafter and saw the aftermath or those who heard someone involved say something about the accident. 

Another form of witness, called a lay witness, is someone who witnesses the effect of the incident on your life. Family and friends can testify to your injuries or emotional health before and after the event; co-workers can attest to your ability to perform the same workload as before the incident or your ability to continue in your career advancement. 

Expert witnesses are a third and very important category. They can help your case immeasurably. Such expert witnesses may include:

  • Accident reconstruction specialists
  • Engineers, product designers
  • Vocational rehab specialists
  • Medical experts, therapists of many kinds
  • Forensic toxicologists
  • Highway safety experts 

As an experienced personal injury attorney, I can tap into a broad resource of expert witnesses to provide you with the strongest expert support for your case. 

Witness Interviews

Ideally, someone involved in an accident should try to talk to witnesses at the scene and ask them if they would be willing to make a statement. However, if you were injured, you were likely not able to talk to strangers at the time. However, if any friends or family were present, they should be willing to provide eyewitness accounts. It is ideal to get their statements in writing as close to the time of the accident as possible to ensure strong memory recall of all events. 

If you do not have any witnesses already, we at The Quackenbush Law Firm will seek them out and interview them. Depending on the situation, we may utilize police reports, traffic cameras, security cameras, and other legally available records to help find people who witnessed the accident or the events shortly thereafter.

Whether you provide the witnesses or we find them, the first step is to reach out, explain who we are and why we are calling, and ask if they would be willing to answer a few questions. My approach is very respectful and compassionate, and most people are willing to talk to me and tell me what they know about the event. If a person is hesitant or does not want to cooperate, I may have to point out that if the suit goes to court, the witness may receive a subpoena, which can be much more inconvenient than answering a few questions and signing a statement.

Do witnesses have to appear in court? 

Sometimes, but rarely, because their statements would be included in any demand packages sent to insurance companies. Seeing the strength of the witness testimony can often encourage insurers to provide a significant settlement package to avoid going to court, as judges and juries tend to be sympathetic to injured parties, especially if they have strong eyewitness testimony. 

Questions for witnesses

The questions we would ask your witness are adjusted to the particular type of accident or injury. In the case of a car accident, the questions we would ask, and that you could ask any witnesses you know of, would include:

  • In your own words, can you tell me how the accident occurred?
  • Where were you when the accident occurred? What did you see from your perspective?
  • What was the weather like? What were the road conditions? Were there any lighting or glare issues, obstacles on the road, or visual obstructions?
  • Who got out of the car first? What did people do immediately after the accident?
  • Did you hear any statements from the people involved in the accident or other witnesses?
  • Did you hear anything or see anything right before the accident?
  •  Where were you looking or what were you doing right before you saw the accident?
  • Do you know anyone else who was a witness who may be able to help? 

These are just a few of the questions we ask eyewitnesses to an auto accident in Florida. Lay witnesses would be asked questions that demonstrate the effects of the injury on your life – physical health, mental and emotional health, relationships, and ability to work. All of these witness statements, combined with expert witness testimony, will strengthen your case, demonstrate the fault of the other party, and increase your financial compensation.

As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I am committed to helping Florida residents throughout the state receive just and fair compensation to help them cope with the injuries they have sustained through someone else’s negligence. Contact me at (954) 448-7288, 24/7 for a free consultation to see how I can help you.

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